The federal government has stepped up its efforts to boost the number of girls and women studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
Industry minister Karen Andrews marked International Women’s Day with announcements that build on the government’s 2019 Advancing Women in STEM strategy.
The action plan is focused on three areas:
# Accelerating change through government practices
# leading a data-driven approach
# and embedding a culture of evaluation.
The STEM Equity Monitor brings together data from across government in an interactive digital report to show the current state of STEM gender equity. The monitor includes data from primary school to the workforce.
The initiative comes against a backdrop of failure in programmes designed to boost STEM studies in Australia
Figures released by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) show a continuing fall in STEM subject in Australian schools.
In 2018 compared to 2017:
# VET in Schools students decreased by 4.7 per cent
# school-based apprentices and trainees decreased by 8.9 per cent
# students undertaking other VET in Schools programmes decreased by 4.3 per cent.
Andrews said: “Gender equity in STEM and improving participation and opportunities for girls and women in these fields will result in significant social, economic and technological benefits for everyone.
“When it comes to our girls, we need to make sure they’re studying STEM subjects so they can be prepared for the jobs of the future – 75 per cent of which will require those skills.
The latest initiative flows from the government’s Women in STEM Decadal Plan which focused on practices, data and evaluation to ‘achieve real change’.
Picture: Karen Andrews
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